This book, The Intimate Circle in Contemporary Czech Photography, accompanies an exhibition of the same name, held by the City Gallery Prague (and later by the House of Art, Bratislava, and the Olomouc Museum of Art), presenting a considerable part of contemporary Czech photographic works on the themes of self-reflection, introspection, intimacy, the family, and the things and people nearest and dearest to the photographers. Whereas in America, Western Europe, and Japan, photographers have long shown in their works even the most intimate moments of their lives and the lives of their families and friends, in Czech photography this sort of open self-reflective photograph or photo diary has until recently been rather rare. But things have begun to change radically in recent years. The natural inclination to define oneself against the previous generation (whose members had spent part of their lives under a prudish, hypocritical Communist régime, and did not dare to reveal in their work anything of their private lives), the search for something to hold on to in uncertain times, the breaking of most taboos, an effort to understand themselves as well as possible, and a growing willingness to expose at least part of their private lives have helped to keep the imaginary boundary between the private and the public continuously shifting. In the Czech Republic, photographs with intimate and introspective topics have now become highly popular, particularly among members of the young and middle generations.
The fifty exhibiting photographers cover a broad generational span, which includes both classic photographers and visual artists working with the medium of photography, established artists of international renown as well as students and recent graduates of many art schools. Each of them has written a short piece related to their own exhibited works, providing insight into the circumstances in which the works were made.
Czech Photography of the 20th Century, published simultaneously in Czech and English versions, is the first book to present the main trends, figures, and works of Czech photography from the beginning to the end of the last century to such a large extent. Its 517 plates include not only the most important, well-known photographs and photomontages, but also works that have long been forgotten or are published for the first time. The book is arranged in seventeen chapters, supplemented with chronologies of the most important events in twentieth-century Czech photography and history.